We rated, reviewed, & compared 13 of the best graphics cards for gaming across various budgets. These top GPUs are perfect for gamers who are looking to max out their favorite games.
|Zotac GTX 1080 Ti||/10|
|Zotac GTX 1070||/10|
|EVGA GTX 1060||/10|
|MSI RX 560||/10|
|Gigabyte GT 1030||/10|
There is no component that has a bigger direct impact on your gaming experience than your video card will. And, if you’re looking to build a gaming computer in 2018 and you want to really take your gaming experience to the next level, then you definitely need to make sure you get yourself a high-end GPU.
A graphics card (or video card) basically acts like a second processor. However, the video card is only responsible for processing graphics-related tasks.
Therefore, having a high-end video card not only helps your system by improving the quality of visual effects that it can display, but also by relieving your main processor of the responsibility of having to carry out graphics-related tasks. This gives your computer a significant increase in performance in gaming over system’s that rely on the integrated graphics on their performance.
When building a new gaming computer, you want to put a good portion of your budget towards getting the best video card for gaming possible. It’s generally recommended to put at least 20-30% of your total budget into your graphics card.
In this post, we will take a look at the best graphics cards for gaming in 2018 at various price ranges for different budget sizes. I’ve broken down the categories into four different graphics card tiers.
For each video card tier there’s a chart that breaks down the different options and then below a few of those cards are highlighted with an overview. There are definitely other worthy cards made by other manufacturers, but as I update this I try to find the card that’s going to offer the best price-to-performance. So, if a certain reputable manufacturer’s card is on sale when I update this list, then I’ll likely add their card.
TIER 1 GRAPHICS CARDS FOR GAMING
Tier 1 graphics cards consist of the best options on the market. While they are very expensive, these GPUs will allow you to max out most games on a 1440p/144Hz monitor or a 4K monitor as well as allow you to get into VR gaming.
And, with all of the power that they bring to the table, they will stay relevant for a long time coming.
So, if you’re looking for the best GPU for gaming, and you’re planning on using a high-end monitor for better visuals, then you need one of these cards.
Right now, I think NVIDIA’s higher end cards have better value than AMD’s RX VEGA cards, as the VEGA cards tend to bench below their pricepoint when compared to how NVIDIA’s cards perform.
TIER 1 GPU Comparison Chart
Zotac GTX 1080 Ti
Read Review »
Right now the Zotac GTX 1080 Ti AMP edition is one of the better-priced GTX 1080 Ti’s on the market. Prices will probably fluctuate quite a bit, so be sure to check around at the other options. But, for now, the Zotac version remains one of the least expensive 1080 Ti and it is a solid all-around card, too.
Zotac GTX 1080 Ti Overview
If you’re looking for the best single-GPU video card on the market, the GTX 1080 Ti is the card to get.
I’ve listed Zotac’s AMP GTX 1080 Ti as it is a solid card and is currently one of the more affordable options.
Zotac’s card has a base clock of 1569MHz, sports 11GB of GDDR5 memory, and comes in at a length of 11.8″. It does require a hefty 600W power supply to run, though, so if you’re upgrading your current system, make sure you have enough power to accommodate it.
Ultimately, the GTX 1080 Ti is going to allow you to max out games at 4K resolutions, or will let you run a 1440p/144Hz monitor with no problem. It also easily meets Oculus‘ and HTC’s VR-headset requirements. So, if you’re looking for the best GPU on the market for your new gaming PC, then you’ll definitely want to consider the GTX 1080 Ti.
MSI GTX 1080 Armor
Read Review »
If you have a big budget and you want to be able to max out games on a 4K monitor and play VR games with ease, the GTX 1080 is a solid option if you don’t have quite enough in your budget to reach up and get the 1080 Ti.
MSI GTX 1080 Armor Overview
The price of the GTX 1080 still hasn’t quite come down to the levels we expected them to when they were released. However, is is still one of the best single GPU video cards currently on the market.
And, unlike when they were first released, they are readily available.
Essentially, the GTX 1080 can deliver twice as much performance as the GTX 980 Ti in virtual reality gaming and about ~25% more performance in 4K gaming.
And, the crazy thing is that since these new cards are so efficient, all you need is a quality 500W power supply in order to power it!
Ultimately, the GTX 1080 is a solid card that will work for anyone who wants to game on higher resolution and/or higher refresh rate monitors, but who doesn’t quite have the budget to reach up for a GTX 1080 Ti.
Sapphire RX Vega 64
Read Review »
The Sapphire Radeon RX Vega 64 is a next generation GPU from AMD that’s built to handle graphically advanced games and Virtual Reality scenarios. The 8 GB, 2048-bit HBM2 GPU clocks in at 1247MHz with a boost clock of 1546MHz. It has a memory speed of 945MHz and a memory data rate of 1.9 Gbps. While this GPU isn’t an inexpensive addition to your system, it will not only revolutionize your visual gaming experience but will also provide you with room to grow as new technologies become available.
Sapphire RX Vega 64 Overview
The Sapphire Rx Vega 64 takes Radeon graphics architecture to the next level by combining multiple innovations within the card. It’s high bandwidth cache and memory controllers effectively remove capacity limitations that you experience with traditional GPU’s. The new automatic memory movement that’s controlled by the high-bandwidth cache controller enables access to larger and more detailed assets through the redesigned architecture.
The RX Vega 64 uses HBM2, the newest innovation in graphics memory technology that creates an effective and high-performing GPU. Its 2048-bit memory bus enhances the graphics on both old favorites and new up and coming titles.
The Vega 64 is equipped with a Next-Gen Compute unit that allows for higher possible clock speeds. The pixel engine also got an upgrade, boosting the visual quality available allowing for deeper shades, better shadows, and an enhanced visual gaming experience.
From a technical perspective, the graphics card has a PCI-e interface and uses a Radeon R9 Nano coprocessor. It has 8 GB of DDR5 SDRAM RAM and a 2,048 bits’ memory bus width. It has a core clock speed of 1247 MHz and a boost clock at 1546MHz which gives you a gaming experience without any stuttering or tearing.
Like other GPU’s at this price point, the RX Vega 64 harnesses the power of both AMD Eyefinity and AMD Crossfire technology, allowing you to game across multiple screens simultaneously while combining the power of more than one GPU to have an entirely immersive experience.
The Liquid VR enhancement is a great feature if you play a lot of virtual reality games as not only does it make the experience both comfortable and realistic, but also reduces motion-to-photon latency which can eliminate motion sickness when you’re playing.
EVGA GTX 1070 Ti
Read Review »
EVGA’s GTX 1070 Ti is a solid option for anyone who has a decent-sized budget to build a new PC with (or upgrade their existing one.) It will offer performance slightly above the GTX 1070 and slighlty below the GTX 1080… or in another words it should serve well for 1440p or 4K gaming.
EVGA GTX 1070 Ti Overview
NVIDIA’s new GTX 1070 Ti wedges right between the GTX 1080 and 1070 in terms of price and performance.
And, if you were looking at a GTX 1070, you might want to consider bumping up your budget and grabbing the 1070 Ti, because the jump in price at the moment isn’t too significant.
In the past, GTX 1070 cards have made their way down into the mid or low $300s, but after crypto-miners depleted the GPU market earlier this year, the cheapest 1070s are still only in the high $300s.
And, since you can get this EVGA GTX 1070 Ti for a little over $450, the price difference isn’t too significant if you are working with a larger budget.
In any case, the 1070 Ti is a decent option if your budget is specific enough and at a level to where you have a little more to spend than what the 1070s come in at, and a little less to spend on what the 1080s come in at.
Sapphire RX VEGA 56
Read Review »
Unfortunately, with no third party VEGA 56s out and their prices slightly below the GTX 1080s (and slightly above the GTX 1070 Tis), the VEGA 56 just isn’t a great value right now unless you are someone who only chooses AMD products. If you are an AMD diehard, then a VEGA 56 will perform well for you, but for the price, you’d probably get more value going with a GTX 1080, 1070 Ti, or 1070.
Sapphire RX VEGA 56 Overview
Another possible option in the $400-$500 price range is AMD’s RX VEGA 56.
And, while there still aren’t any third-party versions of the cards available, if you’re an AMD diehard, the RX VEGA 56 will offer solid performance for the price.
However, most benchmarks have it trailing behind the GTX 1080 and 1070 Ti and not far ahead of the GTX 1070 in most games, so if you’re looking for value you may want to look to NVIDIA.
Hopefully, the price drops a bit and there are some third party cards out in the near future and, if so, these cards might offer better value.
But, unless you only choose AMD products, you’d probably be better off going with a GTX 1080, 1070 Ti, or 1070.
Zotac GTX 1070
Read Review »
While the GTX 1080 Ti is the clear-cut winner in terms of overall performance, the GTX 1070 is more affordable and still has enough power to easily handle VR-gaming, as well as 4K gaming. So, if you want to save a little bit of money without a big loss in performance, the GTX 1070 might be the best GPU for the money.
Zotac GTX 1070 Overview
Don’t have quite enough to get the GTX 1080 or 1070 Ti? No worries, the new GTX 1070, which was released alongside the 1080 (or, rather a couple of weeks after) offers a better price-to-performance ratio and is definitely one of the top graphics cards currently available.
For a little under $400, the GTX 1070 gives you the ability to build a VR-ready gaming machine that can also push higher resolution monitors with ease.
So, whether you want to get an Oculus Rift, or if you want to game at 4K, the 1070 will allow you to do so.
And, with the holiday season approaching, expect to see a price drop in the near future.
When the price finally reaches the ~$300 mark—which is what the original MSRP was—these will easily be one of the better price-to-performance cards on the market.
TIER 2 GRAPHICS CARDS FOR GAMING
These Tier 2 GPUs bring a lot of performance to the table. While they aren’t as powerful as the Tier 1 gaming video cards listed above, they aren’t that far behind either.
These graphics cards will easily max out any game on a 1920×1080 monitor and will even give you high-end performance on a 2560×1440 monitor in some non-demanding games.
The GTX 1060 and RX 580 can actually serve as decent options for entry-level 4K gaming as well. And, both of those cards meet Oculus Rift’s minimum requirements, so they will work for a future VR setups as well.
Ultimately, though, if you don’t want to spend much over $300, but you are looking to get one of the best video cards for the money, these cards will give you a ton of power.
TIER 2 GPU Comparison Chart
EVGA GTX 1060
Read Review »
The GTX 1060 graphics card from EVGA uses the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 chipset in combination with Pascal architecture to deliver fast graphics rendering during gaming. The chip has 6 GB of memory and a core clock that comes in between 1506 and 1594MHz, depending on which mode you’re operating in. With overclocking the chip can reach over 1800 MHz.
EVGA GTX 1060 Overview
The EVGA GTX 1060 graphics card is designed to work flawlessly with NVIDIA’s new Pascal GPU. It uses the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 chipset and combines 6 GB of GDDR5 video memory with a 192-bit memory interface to deliver superior graphics rendering.
The new design features a 6-phase PCB that uses military class 4 components for superior durability, no matter how much you play. The 8-pin power connector gives you higher overclocking capabilities to push your card to deliver max performance.
The GTX 1060 has several native features to help keep it cool, including dual fans and Heat Sink construction technology. By incorporating the latest science of air flow control and heat reducing materials, MSI gives you a stable and high-performing GPU.
With a core clock at 1506 MHz in OC mode, 1569 MHz in gaming mode, and 1506 MHz in silent mode, you have enough power to get great graphics right out of the box. The EVGA GTX 1060 also comes with boost clock capabilities, which take the numbers to 1809 MHz in OC mode, 1784 MHz in gaming mode and 1708 MHz in silent mode.
With lots of connectivity, like a DL-DVI-D port, a HDMI 2.0 port, and three DisplayPort 1.4 options, you can configure your system exactly the way you want.
UHD technology, also known as ultra-high resolution, combines with NVIDIA G-SYNC to give you graphics at up to four times 1080p quality, which means you can pick out the important details on your screen thanks to the sharp and crisp images.
XFX RX 580
Read Review »
The XFX RX 580 is a GPU with 8GB GDDR5 memory that clocks in at 1366 MHz. With the boost clock, it can achieve 1386 Mhz, and the memory clock is at 80000 and 8100 MHz respectively. As a product in the XFX family, it has a lot of useful integrations that further boost your graphics performance, like Radeon Chill technology, XFX True Clock technology, and AMD Eyefinity technology.
XFX RX 580 Overview
Powered by the AMD Radeon RX 580 GPU, this graphics card has a true clock speed at 1366MHz with a boost clock capability of up to 1386MHz. The memory clock comes in at 8000MHz and can be overclocked to 8100MHz. These rates can meet the needs of the most demanding game titles available.
The 8 GB GDDR5 (256-bit) onboard memory gives your system the amount it needs to render gaming visuals in striking realism without slowing down your system. The GPU is highly compatible thanks to the PCI express 3.0 interface and the DVI, HDMI, and three DisplayPort outputs.
You can configure up to six display screens for simultaneous use thanks to the integrated AMD Eyefinity technology giving you a panoramic view of your world without needing virtual reality glasses.
Another great feature is XFX True Clock Technology which uses BIOS controlled overclocking hardware which optimizes the performance of your card without bogging it down by running an additional software component to help with the process. This is just another way that XFX optimizes the system.
XFX RX 570
Read Review »
An RX 570 is a decent alternative to the GTX 1060 6GB and 3GB, as it comes in at a bit lower cost than the GTX 1060 6GB and will outperform the GTX 1060 3GB in games that require more VRAM. Really, though, it will all come down to what price you can grab it at. If you can find it for a similar price to the GTX 1060 3GBs that are out there, the RX 570 is a good option.
XFX RX 570 Overview
The XFX RX 570 is one way to add not only a pop of color to your gaming set up but a boost to your graphics performance.
The 4 GB, 256-bit GDDR5 memory will eliminate screen tears and long rendering times while you’re gaming, and has a 1750MHz (7.0 Gbps) memory clock. The GPU uses the AMD Radeon RX 570 GPU and has a boost clock of 1284 MHz.
This GPU features 2048 stream processors, PCI Express 3.0, and has one DL-DVI-D, one HDMI, and three DisplayPort ports to give you several connectivity options.
Now that the cards are back in stock and readily available, they fit right between the GTX 1060 6GB and GTX 1060 3GB cards in terms of price and performance.
So, if you dont’ quite have the budget to reach up and get a GTX 1060 6GB, but you don’t want to be limited in certain games by the GTX 1060 3GB’s lower VRAM, you might want to consider an RX 570.
TIER 3 GRAPHICS CARDS FOR GAMING
The Tier 3 GPUs are the sweet spot for gamers playing on a 1920×1080 monitor. These cards are powerful enough to max out pretty much any game at 1920×1080 resolution and they’re much more reasonable in price.
They will struggle with more demanding games at higher resolutions, but overall they are excellent options if you are sticking with a 1080p monitor.
Of the cards in this group, GTX 1050 Ti is the best overall option. It is capable of handling anything on medium-to-higher settings on a 1080p monitor and it can meet the requirements for VR-gaming (or, at least the Oculus Rift). The other two options are excellent choices as well if you are trying to build an extreme budget gaming PC.
Ultimately, though, the good news is that even though you don’t have a couple hundred or more to spend on getting the best GPU available, these options serve as amazing entry-level graphics cards and they will allow you max out most games on a 1920×1080 monitor.
TIER 2 GPU Comparison Chart
EVGA GTX 1050 Ti
Read Review »
While the GTX 1050 Ti under performs the RX 570, the fact that it is quite a bit cheaper than its AMD counterpart, and because it requires a measly 300W power supply, drawing power solely through the PCIe port, makes it much more budget-friendly. So, as long as the RX 570 stays more expensive than the GTX 1050 Ti, the 1050 Ti is an option to consider at the ~$150 price point.
EVGA GTX 1050 Ti Overview
The GTX 1050 Ti gets outperformed by the RX 570, but it does come in significantly cheaper.
So, if you don’t want to spend over ~$150, then the GTX 1050 Ti is your best bet.
The coolest feature of the GTX 1050 Ti (and the GTX 1050, too) is the fact that you don’t need to hook it up to your power supply. It runs completely off of the power it draws from the PCIe port.
And, the minimum required power supply to run the 1050 Ti is a quality 300W unit.
That means that most people with an older desktop can upgrade to the 1050 Ti and enjoy being able to max out most games on a 1080p monitor.
Not too shabby for that price, considering you won’t also have to upgrade your power supply as well.
MSI RX 560 AERO
Read Review »
The MSI RX 560 is a solid budget-friendly card that separates itself from the GTX 1050 below by offering double the VRAM. Both cards are good options, however, the extra VRAM will help give the RX 560 an edge in newer games.
MSI RX 560 AERO Overview
The RX 560 trades blows with the GTX 1050 in most games and offers an additional option to choose from in the ~$100-$120 price range.
However, where the MSI RX 560 stands out is the fact that it comes with 4GB of VRAM as opposed to the GTX 1050’s 2GBs. This is important because newer games are starting to utilize more and more VRAM, and going with a lower VRAM card can force you to turn down settings in your favorite games.
So, while the GTX 1050 listed below is a bit less expensive, you may want to spend a little more to get some extra VRAM.
Ultimately, both cards are solid, but if you want better performance in today’s newer games, you’ll probably want to go with an RX 560.
EVGA GTX 1050
Read Review »
The GTX 1050 is a great option for anyone who is working with a really tight budget who wants to be able to play most games on higher settings on a 1080p monitor. Whether you are looking for an affordable upgrade for your aging machine, or you are building a budget-friendly computer to play games like League of Legends, Team Fortress, or World of Warcraft, the 1050 is a very economical option that will allow you to do so.
EVGA GTX 1050 Overview
The GTX 1050 is the less powerful and more affordable version of the GTX 1050 Ti. It is the perfect option for gamers who are on a tight budget, but who still want to be able to play most games on a 1080p monitor on higher settings.
Like the GTX 1050 Ti, the 1050 also draws all of its power solely from the PCIe port and, thus, doesn’t need to be hooked up directly to a power supply with 6 or 6+2 pin PCIe connectors.
It also only requires a 300W power supply to run, which means that even if you have an older pre-built machine, you can likely plug-in the GTX 1050 and get a significant upgrade in performance.
If you don’t quite want to spend ~$150 on a new GPU, you can definitely save a few bucks and get the GTX 1050.
Ultimately, if you don’t have much over $100 to spend, the GTX 1050 is a solid option. Although, because it only has 2GB of VRAM, it might not be as good of an option as the RX 560 listed above.
TIER 4 GRAPHICS CARDS FOR GAMING
Tier 4 GPUs are for any gamer who is working with an extremely tight budget and who either just wants to be able to play games on a 1080p monitor on lower settings, or for those eSports-oriented gamers who want to play less-demanding games that are more competitive in nature.
Games like League of Legends, Dota 2, Team Fortress, Overwatch, etc. can all be handled easily by the video cards in this tier.
And, while the GPUs listed below aren’t good long-term options, they are still the best options in their price range.
Ultimately, while in the past budget-friendly cards could barely be expected to handle 1080p games on medium settings, nowadays these cards will provide you with a solid gaming experience at 1920×1080 resolution.
TIER 2 GPU Comparison Chart
XFX RX 550
Read Review »
For the price, the XFX RX 550 is a good buy for a quiet and cool running card. It isn’t, nor does it claim to be, a high-performance player. Its place is for older systems in need of an upgrade or just as an inexpensive graphics card for the light gamer. It’s not a great option, but it will hold you over until you can get something more powerful.
XFX RX 550 Overview
The XFX RX 550 isn’t a high-performance graphics card. Rather, it’s an affordable option for lightweight gaming that gets the job done for 1080p gaming.
It’s also a good option if you have an older system in need of an upgrade before going all out for a higher-end solution.
The RX 550 has three outputs including a Dual Link DVI, and two HDMI ports. It also comes with 2GB of VRAM, which is nice considering older sub-$100 video cards typically came with only 1GB of VRAM
It has 512 stream processors and it is compatible with DirectX 12 on Microsoft Windows 10.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a cheap card that will let you run your favorite games on a 1080P monitor, then this RX 550 will serve you well—at least until you have enough to upgrade up to a higher-end option.
Gigabyte GT 1030
Read Review »
Another extreme budget-friendly video card is Gigabyte’s GeForce GT 1030. It’s a sub-$80 card that will allow you to play most 1080P games on at least medium settings. It’s not a long-term solution, but if you’re looking for something that will hold you over until you can upgrade, this isn’t a bad way to go.
Gigabyte GT 1030 Overview
The Gigabyte GT 1030 competes with the RX 550 in that both are super budget-friendly graphics cards that will work well if you are building a barebones entry-level system, or if you have an older system that needs to be upgraded in order to keep up with some of today’s newer games.
The 1030, like the RX 550, should be able to handle most games on a 1080P monitor on at mediumish settings. Although, for more demanding games, you will likely have to turn the settings down to low.
Also like the RX 550, the 1030 comes with 2GB of VRAM which should help it a bit more in newer games.
Ultimately, this card isn’t a long-term solution, but it will serve well as a last resort option if you have a super low budget.
WHICH GRAPHICS CARD IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
This is not a list of every graphics card on the market. There are certainly quite a bit of lower tier video cards that can be had. However, a lot of them are comparable to the integrated graphics you can get on a newer CPU.
And, while NVIDIA has held the high-end of the market on lockdown for the past few generations, it is always at least worth looking into newer architecture before you make your decision.
However, the performance difference, if any, is usually negligent between AMD and NVIDIA’s offerings at the same price level. And, so if you’re ready to build now, the options listed here should fit your needs based off of the price range you are looking to choose from.
In the end, the graphics card you choose for your gaming computer will be the biggest determining factor in what games you can play, at what resolution you can play them at, and how high you can turn up the settings.